Seven San Francisco cops suspended over ‘White Power’ text messages
Seven San Francisco police officers linked to a scandal over racist and homophobic text messages were suspended with the recommendation they be fired, Chief Greg Suhr said on Friday.
In all, a department investigation revealed wrongdoing by 14 members of the police department – who may be disciplined in various ways from suspension without pay to termination, the chief said.
“There is also no place in the SFPD for any officer capable of the thinking expressed in these hateful text messages,” Suhr said in a statement.
“The officers responsible for the reprehensible texts should be separated from the SFPD as soon as practical. The fine, right-minded men and women of the SFPD that are of the impeccable character required of a Guardian (police officer) expect no less,” he said.
The offensive texts came to light during an FBI investigation of corruption involving Ian Furminger, a former San Francisco police sergeant.
Court documents in the Furminger case said that four officers used their phones to text offensive messages. In the texts, Furminger used racial epithets, bragged that a relative was a slave auctioneer, and joked about the Ku Klux Klan.
“Cross burning lowers blood pressure!” Furminger wrote, according to court documents. He also sent texts insulting Latinos, the documents said.
In response, the other officers texted such responses as “White Power,” prosecutors said.
Other texts, including jokes about one of the others being gay, were received on officers’ phones, prosecutors said.
The police department launched an extensive investigation, Suhr said in the statement, and found eight officers showed “such extreme bias (racist and/or homophobic content)” and “such despicable thinking” that they were suspended “and their cases have been forwarded to the Police Commission with the singular recommendation of termination.” The eighth officer, Michael Robison, has already resigned from the department.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón has said he would study all criminal prosecutions involving the officers that had been conducted over the past 10 years in light of the inquiry.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York)